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Stop putting female content in the corner

Sarah Homewood, AdNews journalist

Social media lit up this week with the news that much-loved female news and opinion site The Hoopla was closing. This was promptly followed by the news that News Corp was launching its own female-focused news website.

Hoopla co-founder Wendy Harmer said that international players coming into the market with endless funds was what put her out of business. The players she’s referring to are the likes of Mail Online recently hiring a Femail editor for the Australian market, News now entering the fray, and further afield to the US, startups eyeing Australia, as Neil Ackand, Sound Alliance CEO alluded to in his feature in the 20 Feb issue of AdNews.

However there are many local players without a global brand name and back account, doing swimmingly off the female dollar. Mia Freedman’s Mamamia empire is an example, as well as Fairfax’s The Daily Life.

I would argue, though, that it’s oversaturation rather than global players, which led to The Hoopla closing its doors.

Publishers are more likely to pile into female-focused content – and you can see why. Women are big bucks to advertisers and publishers. It might make commercial sense to separate female-based content, and male-focussed content, for that matter, but is it what’s best for the audience?

After high school, and except in public bathrooms – excluding trendy clubs that think unisex toilets are a good idea – there is rarely a situation when men and women are separated. It doesn’t make sense. So why separate content?

Other than the commercial benefits, I honestly can’t wrap my head around it.

Publishers still do what the first edition of The Australian did 50 years ago – it had a women’s interest section called “Mainly for Women”. I struggle to spot the difference.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the content. I read The Daily Life and am a subscriber to the Mamamia newsletter, I am a young female in the demographic that these publishers and their advertisers want to target.

What would make me more more engaged with a publisher’s content and want to spend money with their advertisers is if I logged onto a home page and saw content that speaks to me. Publishers will rush to say: “We do that already.” And some do. But then why do all major publishers host their female-focused content on separate parts of the site?

I don’t believe there is any such thing as a women’s (or a man’s) issue, they’re all people issues. So if publishers want to talk to – and profit from – female audiences, treat them like people and don’t hide them a in a far corner of your website.

Did we learn nothing from Dirty Dancing?

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Henry Sapiecha

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